My zero waste/minimalist journey: an introduction

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Via Pinterest- Trade your plastic for mason jars !

I lost my glasses.

The good thing is that I know where they are: probably at home, because the case in which I carefully put them every time I take them off is still at my parents home. But I cant find them, and I know why. We have way too much stuff.

Back to my student life. Sometimes, I spend more time on cleaning instead of, like every student, being at my desk studying.

Because I have too much stuff in my apartment. My parents are overly generous and every time they come over, they bring bags of food, clothes I left at their home, cleaning supplies, new towels “just in case” and all sorts of gadgets. They are so kind. But though I was blessed during my student years to learn, by living on my own, how to be a homemaker and I learned lots of housekeeping skills, I’m still convinced that I have spent more time cleaning than the average student. Not only my parents, but my relatives never miss an occasion to give: you’ll probably see it in one of my future posts on the topic, but I lost track of the number of makeup palettes my aunt gave me as presents.

I am all for hospitality and generosity, but the strain I endured because of all that clutter in my life made me realize that it’s time to rethink the way our consumption.

There are plenty of posts on zero waste/minimalist post on the Internet if you are not familiar with that movement/trend yet. I probably won’t become as radical as Bea Johnson, whose lifestyle I love yet for lots of reasons I can’t get rid of everything I own so it will definitely be a long journey. However, I will try to document it, in pictures- and as I declutter my apartment, I hope to make more space in my life for other things…

Stayed tuned for the next post !

Stéphanie

 

 

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Do you capsule ?

The term “capsule wardrobe” was coined by Susie Faux, owner of the West End boutique “Wardrobe”, in the 1970s to refer to a collection of essential items of clothing that would not go out of fashion, and therefore could be worn for multiple seasons. The aim was to update this collection with seasonal pieces to provide something to wear for any occasion without buying many new items of clothing.” – Wikipedia (I know, not necessarily the best ressource but that definition is fine for my post 😉 )

Last week, I took advantage of my free afternoons to declutter my appartment before starting school. I was AMAZED at the amount of things- not only clothes in my wardrobe but plates in my kitchen, products in my makeup bag (I mean box) I had, most of them for YEARS and yet only using maybe 20-30 % of each category on a daily basis.

Not only there were here, useless, but clutter adds a lot of stress, and the “turnover” energy you have to put in daily when it comes to cleaning is important. What I mean by that is simple: the more stuff you have, the more cleaning you’ll have to do.

Which is sad because in the case of clothes, if you wear only your favorite items (20 %-30% of your cluttered wardrobe), you are allowing those you won’t wear to collect dust, eat a lot of space and eventually you will have to wash them and fold them again, over and over. I have folded TONS of clothes just because I had to and yet would never wear them.

That is how I came to get acquainted with the idea of a capsule wardrobe, and a capsule lifestyle as well. Some will take it to extreme lenghts, it’s true. Everyone will have his/her own definition of capsuling and for me, it was having the clothes I loved most and used most… without spending my whole life cleaning around ! Also, choosing carefully your items and getting creative with mixing/matching was an aspect I really wanted to integrate as a part of a frugal lifestyle where you spend more time doing things that count rather than spending lots of money on clothes/items.

I found some illustrations of capsules of Pinterest that I found useful.

If you don’t know how to “capsule”, here is a short article.

An example of an Audrey Hepburn inspired capsule wardrobe- It’s my style basically. I find that neutrals never go out of style (and pearls also, but that’s just a matter of personal taste 😉 )

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Mix and match and voilà !

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capsule

 

 

Giving God the crumbs…

Today, I received in the mail a copy of A.W Tozer’s book, Experiencing the Presence of God, and, as Randy Alcorn, who prefaced it, be prepared to be pierced by the Holy Spirit’s conviction. 

I read the first chapter, and, quickly looking at the second, stumbled on the title Giving God the crumbs. Reading those words alone appealed to my conscience and I went on reading.

“The simple fact is that God gets the leftovers, never the main meal. God never gets anything new. He gets the hand-me-downs. We give to God that which we do not need instead of giving to Him that which we need, and thus earning a crown for ourselves. If we were concerned with our spiritual condition as we are with our homes and our businesses and our income, we would go forward spiritually at a great rate. The beautiful thing about it is that we would not neglect our homes to do it, and we would not neglect our businesses to do it. You do not have to choose between making a living and going forward with God. You can do both. There is time to do both. You do not have to choose between keeping your house decent and cooking your meals for your husband, and going on with God. You can do both”.

Becoming a homemaker: an introduction

 

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A few definitions from the dictionnary to start off…

Frugality:  the quality of being frugal, or prudent in saving; the lack ofwastefulness

Homemaker: A person who manages the household of his or her own family,especially as a principal occupation.

These few years of university, spent on my own/ with my brother for a few years taught me a lot about homemaking. Not only I learned that domestic skills such as cooking, cleaning and washing your clothes were important- sure they were, but something I have learned is that a homemaker has this unique ability to “set the tone” in her house. I have learned that you who are and how you manage your home will without doubt have an impact not only your immediate sphere of influence, such as your family and your guests, but beyond that, that will influence society. Home is the theatre of family, marriage, motherhood, fatherhood, interactions with siblings, quality time. It tells a lot about who we are really.

It is where you can extend hospitality. Where your husband, children, or friends, can find comfort and love and acceptance and a listening ear and loving hugs after a day where, maybe, things were not easy. Where things did not go as expected with the boss, where school was a burden, where temptations were constantly threatening your family. Where uplifting words are a rarity, and spiritual encouragement is clearly not a priority.

I am, as you can see, convinced that we women have this unique capacity to nurture others and use our creativity and talents to serve others, so that, for them, coming back to home will not feel like a chore, home will not be a place to be deserted and to escape as soon as possible but a place to which they will run because of the spirit of love they will find there.

When I was sixteen, for some reasonn I had to care for my siblings and I had zero knowledge of how to run a household. I clearly remember not knowing at which moment I had to throw pasta because I did not know if the water had to be just hot or boiling. Eventually I learned. Though I am far from being Martha Stewart, there are some things I learn every day that I thought I could share with younger girls.

Just a remark: as single young women, I realized that we have no idea of the impact we can have on younger girls/teens. By mentoring them, we are caring for the next generation and they are in great need, in this world where role models are rare, for an older sister, a mentor that will teach them godly things and at the same time, sympathize with them because they will have gone through similar things. Let us not waste that precious time called singleness ! It is not a time spent of the bench, but something to be used for the glory of God, and for others.

I have learned that homemaking does not necessarily imply being the perfect hostess, a gourmet chef or something that surpasses other. I will come back to that in a future post, God willing, but it is a way of life that aims at loving God and serve others through our skills.

I shared a definition of frugality because I believe frugality is a must as a homemaker: for lots of reasons I will detail later, I believe that a household cannot function efficiently if money is not well spent and if we are careless in the way we buy things and use them.

Grab a cup of tea, make yourself home, and join me as we talk and discuss about ways to make our home a place where godliness can flourish, and people can be loved.

 

Stéphanie

N:B: I want to thank every person who came to visit my blog since I start blogging. Reading your comments make my day !

 

Saturday fun: of hats and calligraphy !

Hello ladies !

As much as I enjoy blogging, with my new internship starting on Monday, I will have to post less often… It’s almost the end of the year (it’s March already, time flies so fast it’s unbelievable), so that calls for more study time ! Anyway, it’s break time now and I wanted to write a bit.

 

Outfit of the (other) day ! 

 

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A quick outfit I wore last week. Spring is starting to come around and I am glad that except for a few rainy days here and there, heavy coats will no longer needed ! In this outfit I am wearing a passe-partout knee-lenght black skirt, a champagne shirt and a white wool jacket along with a black hat, and long mustard earrings. I just love how hats add a final touch to an outfit; you can find those wool felt hats at H and M.

 

Calligraphy !

As I am starting to look for practical, beautiful yet inexpensive ways to make my appartement more homey and cosy, I am considering starting calligraphy ! In a way, I already do it on a daily basis since in France, when we were little, writing beautifully (often with a fountain pen and in cursive script) was something we were taught from the beginning of our elementary years.

I often saw on pinterest and blogs wall decors of quotes and verses and I thought that it was inexpensive and that with a bit of creativity, a frame or two, arranged on a desk, a kitchen counter or the living room, could add a lot of that unique touch to a room. One sweet lady, Jen, whose blog I have been following for years (it’s such a delight to read !), has started a her own calligraphy business, Arabella Calligraphy. Here are some of her works:

 

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How lovely is that ? Here are some other works from Pinterest. I find that not only they enhance a room, but they could be good reminders of God’s Word throughout the days.

 

Have an amazing weekend,

Stéphanie

Becoming a woman of virtue

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Pinterest

 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children,  to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” (Titus 2:3-5)

Today, through the Holy Spirit’s help, I want to obey the Lord and become a virtuous woman:

-I want to love my family not only in words, but in deeds also;

-I want to be self-controlled and not be enslaved to anything but to Christ

-I desire with all my heart to be pure, in this world in which purity is mocked, I want to remember this: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). I want my mind and my eyes to dwell on things… that are true, noble, right, pure, what lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy… (Philippians 4:8). The verse I posted last time made a deep impression on me: it was a key verse in the conversion of Saint Augustine of Hippo, whose battle was mainly with lust. As Spurgeon once said, the food on which silkworms feed predict the color of the silk they will produce and as well, I think what we see, what we dwell upon, what we read, will go in our minds, where the battle is, and therefore, I want to feed on the Word of God.

Talking about purity, I must confess something: there are things I have decided to give up, especially in the area of music because some music and songs have the power to influence your emotions so deeply… and therefore your thoughts, and I felt like I had to give up some of these things.

But as Jim Elliot said, “”He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

-I want to be busy at home… and not be a busybody. In this world where people read gossip magazines, where we spy and stalk each other on Facebook, an attitude that often breeds envy, jealousy and evil things, join me, my dear sisters, as I strive, today, to heed the words of the Apostle Paul:

Or even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat.” (2 Thessalonicians 3:10-11).

Would you please join me in prayer as we not only read these words, but apply them in our daily life in order to honor the Lord ?

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” (James 1:22-24)

Getting organized ! #1 The fridge

Last time I wrote a quite long post about why I was trying to spend less time on social media. Some days after I posted this article, I got rid of the app to which I was most addicted: Instagram. And one of the results of that is that my appartement has never been so tidy and organized ;). I have even printed a little ebook on homemaking and the new cleaning routines I have adopted are making my life much easier these days !

These new series of posts, Getting Organized, are just images from Pinterest that I find useful, within the context of my situation, to help me as I acquire new homemaking skills. I had just no idea how having a real routine, helps alleviate the stress and makes you more productive throughout the day. I hope you enjoy these series and again, everyone has a different home, organization, schedule… You just got to figure out what works for you !

For me, the one thing to remember here is to have baskets in which to put the food. They make a world of difference !

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This “dollar store makeover” is definitely helpful: I am putting everything as well into baskets. That keeps everything visible before your eyes without risk of having that tomato hidden behind something else and ending up… rotten.
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The ultimate fridge chart !

 

Organization: bedtime and morning routine

I finished the first semester exams a few weeks ago and without the few days of break we used to have the previous years, I started right off the bat the second semester, and my number one struggle, these days, or, to be more exact, this year, is organization.

I thought I was disciplined ! Well, the main problem when you are on your own for the first time is setting a routine and sticking to it. Since my brother left for another university, I had to set a schedule but I have trouble following it… I never go to bed early, my mornings are just hectic, it seems I can’t focus at work and in class, I am often eating on the go and therefore lacking energy and so on.

One of the things that keeps me motivated to persevere in a habit is having the necessary tools at hand. Today, while I was looking for practical ideas on how to deal with that problem once and for all, I landed on the Artful Homemaking blog which had some really good tips on that. It gave me the idea of an evening and morning basket.

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Pinterest

Actually, two of them. One for bedtime, and one that I’ll use upon waking up.

Evening basket:

  • My pyjamas
  • Herbal tea and a cup
  • Lavender essential oil-
  • Lipbalm, creams #justgirlythings
  • Socks
  • My diary
  • One or two books (like a devotional, a book about animals- at least something that does not have something to do with pharmacology)
  • And a list of encouraging verses and reminders I like having at hand

The morning basket will be similar: clothes for the day, to-do list, etc.

Why I think this would be useful is because, not only you have everything you need in one place but also, it keeps you from being distracted: for example, how many times I used my Iphone to read something before going to bed and ended up on Facebook, Instagram, and had a completely counter-productive, not relaxing at all evening ? Checked e-mail for no reason ? Worried instead of meditating ? That’s why I’m trying to put the phone away after, maybe, 8-9 pm after I finished studying.

If you have any others ideas, I’d be glad to hear from you !

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A few of my favorite things: My diary, herbal tea, coconut oil as a makeup remover, tea tree essential oil for blemishes, mango butter to keep my locks hydrated and Martha Stewart. I just love everything homemaking.

Blogs I follow: food, homemaking, and other cool blogs

Recently, I decided to compile all the useful ressources in a list that I am posting here on my blog, just because I think that nowadays, the temptation to use every.single.app. in the world can make one waste a lot of time. Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook…Sometimes, the quest for a recipe become an endless wandering on your phone or your computer, and instead of really doing “real stuff”, you just spend hours and hours contemplating what you could do…without never doing it ! I really want to be wise when it comes to time management. Though I did not get rid of my accounts by deactivating them, I recently got rid of the Instagram and Pinterest App on my phone. And, instead of having my energy being spread everywhere, I choosed to stick to a few good blogs ! Here we go 🙂

Let’s eat !

  1. Oh she glows. Mostly vegan recipes !
  2. Une végétarienne presque parfaite (French)
  3. Cléa Cuisine (French)
  4. Paris-Alep (Syrian food…in French :/ Sorry guys you can’t beat French and Middle-Eastern food, hence the lack of english blogs)
  5. Cookie and Kate (oh, look, another cookie 😉 )
  6. VegrecipesofIndia

Cleaning up

Here are a few tools I use when it comes to my cleaning routine.

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Found on Pinterest. I really need schedules- without them I’d attempt to do everything in a day instead of divide up the work.

-Since I am trying to find natural alternatives to conventional cleaning products, I found a website full of tips-(french) and another one here (english) on how you can make your own cleaning products at home with products you already have (vinegar, essential oils). When I’ll have time, I hope to print them and put them in a “homemaking binder”.

Fun stuff

Here are a few blogs I’ve been following-just for fun:

  1. Blessed Femina, by Miss Jen- one of my favorite
  2. Maid for More
  3. Living for Jesus. Katrina had a tremendous influence on me and she’s probably one of the sweetest women I know.
  4. I’m no Angel. Kylie Bisutti is a former Victoria Secrets model who became a Christian. You can know read her blog posts on her blog- I also read her eponymous book which is really great !

Ballet

Everyday, my workout consists in doing a bit of fitness-ballet. It helped me a lot with my posture and I can do it every morning at home, which is great because I would not have the time to go to the gym anyway. Don’t let the word ballet fool you though, it’s harder than you think !

That’s pretty much everything for today. Nothing fancy, but I’m intending to simplify my life and not waste it on social media- so I’d rather gather everything in a list that I can access easily via my blog 🙂

Have a lovely weekend !

Stéphanie

When vinegar is sweet…

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~

essential oils

After washing the dishes tonight, for the first time, I cleaned my sink with a water+vinegar+a few drops of essential oils mixture.

Every day I am amazed at what you can do with ingredients you have in your kitchen, with excellent results and for the fraction of the cost of store-bought products. Gotta love natural alternatives ! I mean just look at my sink- after years of relentless fight with my calcareous sink I finally found the ultimate cleaning product- it makes me want to spend the whole evening cleaning 😉